England under-20s missed out on securing the Six Nations Championship despite a 48-15 bonus-point win over Ireland at the Ricoh Arena on Friday evening.
Tom Hardwick and Harry Byrne exchanged boots before half-time with James Hume & Tommy O’Brien scoring for the visitors while England’s Fraser Dingwall & Ben Loader kept the scores level pegging at the break.
Ben White, Joe Heyes, Gabriel Ibitoye, Josh Basham and Ben Earl all crossed the whitewash for the hosts in a dominant second-period, with Tom Hardwick scoring 15 of England’s points.
Ireland started the stronger side and got off to a dream start when Angus Curtis drilled the ball wide unselfishly to winger Angus Kernohan, but a try-saving tackle Gabriel Ibitoye prevent the Irishmen crossing for an early advantage.
James Hume crossed for Ireland with a slick move, the ball recycled quickly by Harry Byrne and Hume reaped the rewards as he collected to go over with England defenders clinging on.
England responded promptly, Ben Loader crossed the line in elegant fashion with a burlesque turn in the air to evade his marker and touched down in the corner.
On a slick surface it was Ireland who dominated possession in the early stages, keeping the ball through the hands.
Ireland added to their early lead when Captain Tommy O’Brien intercepted a pass from Fraser Dingwall to cross over from point-blank range at the Ricoh Arena.
England reacted well when Ibitoye broke through the midfield to start off England’s attack which continued with Tom Hardwick breaking a line into the Irish 22.
The ball was shipped wide and Dingwall made up for his earlier mistake to put England back into the game with Tom Hardwick levelling the match from the following conversion.
With both sides playing fluent rugby, Ireland compiled the pressure in England’s 22 but a resilient forward pack saved their blushes.
Despite a solid effort in defence from the hosts, Ireland stacked up the pressure on England in the 22 and got their reward, Byrne sloted his effort through from the tee to level the scores at half-time.
Ireland started the second period as efficiently as they did the first, dominating possession and putting England under pressure in a gruelling midfield battle.
Ireland got the rub of the green when the visitors lost possession from midfield and Ibitoye scrapped his way through a ruck from close-range, but his efforts were chalked off for offside.
England then scored a counter-attacking try with the move starting in their own 22, but the hard work came from Ibitoyes’ explosive pace with White the beneficiary.
Ireland captain Tommy O’Brien was then sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate pull-back and England instantly put the visitors under difficulty in their 22 and with perseverance saw Heyes bulldoze his way over.
With Ireland struggling to handle England’s man advantage, Ibitoye got his try, scrum-half Hugh O’Sullivan attempted a box-kick to clear the visitors’ lines but the Harlequins wing charged the kick down and finished the move off under the posts.
The hosts took full control when Basham broke the line of defence to pile over the line and extend England’s lead.
And the floodgates had opened in the late stages when Earl crashed over in the corner after an effiecent period of play by England.
Ibitoye had another effort ruled out late on as it was deemed that the winger lost control of the ball as he placed his effort over the line.
England end their Six Nations campaign on a high but will ultimately find this tournament bitter-sweet with France being crowned Grad Slam champions with their 24-3 away win over Wales in Colwyn Bay.
7’ James Hume Try (0-5)
10’ Ben Loader Try (5-5)
16’ Tommy O’Brien try (5-10)
17’ Harry Byrne Con (5-12)
19’ Fraser Dingwall Try (10-12)
20’ Tom Harwick Con (12-12)
25’ Tom Hardwick Pen (15-12)
39’ Harry Byrne Pen (15-15)
55’ Ben White Try (20-15)
56’ Tom Hardwick Con (22-15)
66’ Joe Heyes Try (27-15)
67’ Tom Hardwick Con (29-15)
69’ Gabriel Ibitoye Try (34-15)
70’ Tom Hardwick Con (36-15)
72’ Josh Basham Try (41-15)
73’ Tom Hardwick Con (43-15)
76’ Ben Earl Try (48-15)
England under-20’s starting XV
15. Jordan Olowofela (Leicester Tigers), 14. Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins), 13. Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints), 12. Tom Hardwick (Leicester Tigers), 11. Ben Loader (London Irish), 10. James Grayson (Northampton Saints), 9. Ben White (Leicester Tigers); 1. Toby Trinder (Northampton Saints), 2. Henry Walker (Gloucester Rugby), 3. Marcus Street (Exeter Chiefs), 4. Dino Lamb (Harlequins), 5. James Scott (Worcester Warriors), 6. Josh Basham (London Irish), 7. Ben Earl (capt) (Saracens), 8. Sam Moore (Sale Sharks)
16: Gabriel Oghre (Wasps), 17: Alex Seville (Gloucester Rugby), 18: Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers), 19: Sam Lewis (Leicester Tigers), 20: Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors), 21: Rory Brand (London Irish), 22: Will Butler (Worcester Warriors), 23: Tom Seabrook (Gloucester Rugby)
Ireland under-20’s starting XV
15. Michael Silvester (Leinster), 14.James Hume (Ulster), 13. Tommy O’Brien (Leinster) (capt), 12. Angus Curtis (Ulster), 11. Angus Kernohan (Ulster), 10. Harry Byrne (Leinster), 9. Hugh O’Sullivan (Leinster); 1. Jordan Duggan (Leinster), 2. Eoghan Clarke (Leinster), 3. Jack Aungier (Leinster), 4. Matthew Dalton (Ulster), 5. Jack Dunne (Leinster), 6. Joe Dunleavy (Ulster), 7. Matthew Agnew (Ulster), 8. Jack O’Sullivan (Munster) 4
16. Diarmuid Barron (Munster), 17. James French (Munster), 18. Tom O’Toole (Ulster), 19. Ronan Coffey (Munster), 20. Sean Masterson (Connacht), 21. Jonny Stewart (Ulster), 22. Conor Dean (Leinster), 23. Sean O’Brien (Leinster)
England U20 Six Nations fixtures and results:
Italy v England: 17-27
England v Wales: 37-12
Scotland v England: 24-17
France v England: 6-22
England v Ireland: 48-15